New Delhi: Speculation is rife that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee may be named for the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna on his 90th birthday on December 25.
Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would take a call on it and may make the announcement on Vajpayee's birthday, which will be observed as good governance day.
Several BJP leaders and MPs, including Murli Manohar Joshi and Hema Malini, have in the past demanded that Bharat Ratna be awarded to Vajpayee. NDA partner Shiv Sena too came out in support of conferring Bharat Ratna to the first BJP Prime Minister.
"Nobody deserves the Bharat Ratna more than Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji," Joshi had said recently.
There was speculation in August that the Prime Minister would announce conferment of Bharat Ratna on Vajpayee in his Independence Day speech. However, no such announcement was made.
The recommendation for Bharat Ratna is made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendation for this is necessary.
Last year, when the UPA government had announced Bharat Ratna for former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao, BJP had criticised Congress for ignoring Vajpayee's contribution to the nation.